I walk out of the blood bank with a myriad of mixed feelings – vexation, frustration, helplessness, anxiety, sympathy and finally miniscule satisfaction.
Prologue: Day 1
A moist weekday afternoon. Heavy lunch. Perfect catalysts for a siesta. A routine check of the mail reveals a situation hapless enough to seize my attention off the siesta inducing conditions. A 3 year old kid suffering from blood cancer, admitted to a hospital at stone’s throw distance from my place. Social responsibility beckoning.
My limbic system [part of the brain that deals with emotions] demanded a solution to be found from the cerebral cortex [part of the brain that is responsible for reasoning]. With the contact numbers mentioned in the mail, I introduced myself as a volunteer to help the people concerned in this issue. A reminder of the callousness in today’s life was in store. Today, being a government holiday, was an “off” day for doctors in that government hospital; thereby the blood bank refused to collect blood from any volunteers, citing lack of duty doctors as the reason.
The Doctor Encounter: Day 2
Location : A Government hospital specializing in oncology.
Following a heavy breakfast, fully loaded, I reached the hospital by 1040AM. The estimate of this whole affair was about one hour. But there was a display of apathy pending. On asking the concerned doctor about the procedure for blood donation, I was subject to some grouchy comments, as I had purportedly annoyed her and wasted her time. First lesson in basic govt hospital behavior learnt. But the quality of teaching exceeded expectations and there was more to come. On asking the concerned nurse about the procedure, I was told that the patient should be giving a requisition for blood, and without that document I am not allowed to donate. So, her answer to my question was that I should be confirming tomorrow with the kid’s parents if they have submitted a requisition and then donate when it’s ready. Even with the demand for blood increasing every passing day, nobody was bothered about making use of a voluntary donor.
The “Bloody” situation :
Putting away the pleasantries offered by the hospital staff, I took the help of a security person to find the blood bank. Thankfully, I discovered that the treatment meted out to donors here is totally contrary to that in the hospital ward! The person in charge of the blood bank was obliging and immediately handed out a form to be filled which asked details of my health in the past few months. The duty doctor checked my vital stats and I was good to go.
As there is a platelet requirement for the patient, and also owing to the reason that I have a healthy weight, extra 50-100 ml was taken from me. This led to some weakness for some time but the refreshments that were offered after donation restored my comfort levels. After returning the ID card of the patient, the 3 year old boy suffering from blood cancer, I walked out, enriched with all the experiences that will last for days to come.
Post Script : Blood donation is completely safe and good for the body. Any healthy person above 18 years of age can donate blood every 3 months. Blood from each donor is separated into components like RBC, WBC, platelets and can save up to 4 people.